Today I received a postcard from Mongolia from my ex-roommate Kenyon. He said that the Japanese presence is big there and also that he has heard rumors of "perfect fruit" that can cost up to 100 dollars US.
Well the "perfect fruit" stories are true. I have seen 100 dollar melons in the supermarket and at special fruit stores. In the "midrange" there are 25 dollar mangos as well. Even giant apples that cost 5 dollars each. Somehow, living in Japan for 3 years has made me immune to the high cost of fruit, although I still haven't tried the 100 dollar melon yet. I don't like melons anyway. But the 5 dollar pineapples aren't too bad.
More on the Japan-Mongolian connection: I have heard that there are quite a few Mongolians in Japanese sumo wrestling and that sumo itself is derived from Mongolian wrestling, but that is just hearsay – I am no expert on sumo. I guess I just don't find the idea of fat men wrestling in diapers all that interesting.
Also in Japan, there is a hearty dish called "Jinggis Khan" – (AKA "Genghis Khan" in English ) that consists of lamb and vegetables cooked on a hotplate with a garlicky soy-based sauce. Pretty good eats. Do they have anything like that in Mongolia? I also tried some fermented mares milk once from Inner Mongolia, which is the part of the Mongol homeland that is part of China. It kind of tasted like the super alcoholic Calpis/Calpico, that weird sweetened whey/yoghurt Japanese soft drink.